An oil spill shut down a 65-mile-long portion of the Mississippi River last night, taking the Port of New Orleans out of commission as a cleanup crew deals with the mess.
According to officials, an oil barge crashed into a towboat between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Nobody was injured in the crash and the barges have been secured, but the closure caused a river-based traffic jam, holding up 26 vessels as of last night. The river supplies drinking water for nearby St. Charles, and intakes were shut off as a precaution, but Parish officials said on Sunday that "the water supply in St. Charles Parish remains safe."
Officials say only a sheen of oil has been reported, but that they don't know how much oil was actually spilled, and are planning a conference call today to figure out how long it will take for the river to reopen. Cost Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough told the Associated Press that the barge was being pushed by the Hannah C. Settoon tugboat when it hit the grain-barge-pushing Lindsay Ann Erickson tug. The Settoon is a 84.5-foot-long boat built in 2010 and owned by Louisiana-based Settoon Towing.
Louisiana suffered greatly from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, a massive leak that spilled millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico and still has BP and a Louisiana oil spill wrapped up in litigation.
Readers will be pleased to hear that despite the trouble, the Carnival Sunshine and Norwegian Jewel cruise ships shipped out of the port early Sunday. Hope those cruises aren't feces- and virus-laced per usual.